Archive | April, 2012

Grunting at the Screen (88)

30 Apr

The information age has not yet finished with us

So when is Quentin Tarantino going to make his big space epic?

Well why not? They are already calling him a genre hopper. He seems to want to prove himself in each film genre. Crime, Kung Fu, War, Western. So far he’s shown a marked aversion to the glorious three legged barstool that the fantastical: Horror, science fiction and Fantasy. Eventually someone will call him out. What’s up Quent? Chicken? And he’ll have to show himself the equal of any other director.

When he does go all Sci Fi* he’ll shoot for the top, take on the best in the game. He’s going to take on 2001 and make something epic in scale and philosophical pretension.



So, I was checking out my files on Rapper Biopics (there’s a few in development now) when I took a look in the Anton Fuqua file.

He’s gone from strength to strength, starting out shakily with the Replacement Killers and maturing into brilliant films like Training Day and Brooklyn’s Finest.

However, he’s also accumulated a huge amount of projects that never came to screen.

It’s a hazard as a director, and he’s not the only one, John Woo notoriously has a full slate, Ridley Scott has redeemed himself lately (but still has a full portfolio of unmade projects.) Darien Aronofsky is also notoriously prolific. However Fuqua has been accumulating and dropping movies with an uncommon vigour.

I count thirteen unmade films, the latest being Olympus Has Fallen, a thriller set in the Whitehouse. This is criminal. For crissake, someone greenlight one of his movies.



Feelings about 3D Movies may be mixed in the west, but there is one place they cannot get enough.. China. There is real demand for just about anything in 3D.

Go Figure.



Regardless of what I said in the last edition of Grunting at the Screen, reviews of Avengers (and do you know it only seems to be “Avengers Assemble” right here in the UK?) are in, and the overall picture is positive (in some cases, disturbingly positive.) This in itself is not cast iron. It does however set up massive expectations.

I’ll be happy if it’s not total crap.



DC has not given up on the movies. Having had their butts kicked with Superman Returns and Green Lantern, they are ever hopeful that one day someone will like one of their (non-Batman) costume heroes.

Slow learners that they are, Warner/DC are planning a Lobo movie. Brad Peyton (Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore) is pencilled in to direct (I know, all the other fans are complaining too.)

I’m surprised. Not over the director, because you never know who will shine in a new role. No, the property. Part of the problem is recognition; Green Lantern was a big unknown outside the fan community. Lobo… well he might as well be anon-entity. I like the Keith Giffin comics well enough, but DC might have considered going with a character that used to have a TV series… Like the Flash.



Somebody agrees with me about Cabin in the Woods (I thought I was the only one.

I mostly concur with his review



For some reason this evaded me. Laurence Fishburne’s The Colony actually slipped into production.

It is a post apocalyptic story after the return of the Ice age; the last human settlements are cut off by snow. Suddenly all contact is lost with one them.

An expedition is mounted from one colony to the next and inevitably they find something worse than they could have expected.


This underlines how much I was wrong about the death of cinematic Science Fiction. As does Lionsgate’s latest acquisition Branded. It is the future and major corporations have executed a plan to control the minds or people world wide… Hey, wait a second! This is supposed to be science fiction!

OK, this historical movie is still in the planning stage, more if and when it actually goes before the camera.



Australian real-life superhero movie Griff the Invisible has appeared on DVD here. Hme. I didn’t see any theatrical release. It joints Kick Ass and Super in a rapidly expanding new subgenre.

I managed to locate some reviews. It’s considered to be quirky, a little arty, a little twee and unlike Super or Kick Ass, more concerned with character than punching bad guys.

It divides the critics; some find it an odd gem, others are bored stiff by it.



I like Io9 website. I go there a lot.

They’ve published a big list of this summer’s genre movies. Some I know, some are new to me.


The Sound of My Voice; woman claims to come from the future, starts a cult. Wait, comes from the writer of last year’s Another Earth…moving on swiftly.

Ruby Sparks; writer invents the perfect woman, she comes to life. Hme, sounds like the Purple Rose of Cairo.


The Odd Life of Timothy Green, childless couple write down the qualities of the perfect son and he turns up on their doorstep. Hme, sounds like a kiddie version of the Purple Rose of Cairo.


7500; ghosts on a plane, no, really. (I’m holding out for Werewolves on a plane.)



Good news everybody. You may have heard that Robert Rodriguez is planning to shoot Sin City” A Dame to Kill for in the summer. (Weeel… actually it’s more complicated than that, he wants to shoot Machete Kills this spring so his schedule this year is tight). Anyway, things are about to get even tighter because Rodriguez intends to go right from Sin City to his live action adaptation of the Frazetta/Bakshi movie Fire and Ice. That might put him in production in the autumn this year.

He’s going t do it totally greenscreen in the same way he did Sin City. He intends to make it look like Frazetta himself painted it.

Personally.. I think it unlikely he will start that soon. But I’m glad he’s making progress.



It’s finished. It’s going to festival and they are calling it the Spanish Shaun of the Dead…with werewolves.

Directed by Tomas Martinez, it’s called Lobos de Arga.


A writer returns to his ancestral town only to find the locals are under a curse. But no worries, the curse can be lifted… by sacrificing him.

Sounds like it might be fun.

There is only one review out there but it’s very positive. I must warn you, it is a horror comedy and not for those who prefer their horror full bore and full blooded.



When we last encountered Scott (Legion, Priest) Stewart. he was making the juvenile adaptation, City of Bones. There’s no word on how that’s doing. But we’ve just found out he’s working on a “supernatural thriller” called “Dark Skies”. No details yet, but it begs the question; what is about? He’s done Angels and Vampires, what is next? Dark Skies suggests Aliens. Could it be an abduction thriller? Or something else, perhaps with wings (bats, I dunno). We like Scott Stewart so there will detail as it emerges.



On Sunday 29th April at 9.15 on Channel 4 an entire ad break was devoted to screening a new trailer for Prometheus. Many of the elements of former trailers were included, only more extensive. The shape of the story is becoming clearer. I will not go into the revelations, but many of them are reminiscent of the original Alien only modified or inverted.

After the trailer, viewers were invited to contribute their opinions of Twitter.

It looks like the publicity machine is ramping up.



Lockout: Review.

It’s not very good.

Let’s hit the obvious points first: it’s a space prison movie, and when have they been any good? Fortress 2? Dante 01? There are a dozen reasons why this idea just doesn’t work. The plot is hackneyed; it’s another twist on Escape from New York and you really have to be good to bring life to that scenario. The style is outmoded; we’ve seen all of this before from Guy Pearce’s John McClane quips, to the crawling around in ducts. And of course it’s a cheap movie and you know it. The CG is about videogame cut-scene quality, it looks like it could have done with a few more months at the renderfarm to pull it up to standard.

But you know what? None of this mattered. I walked in knowing all of the above, hell, I’d seen the trailers.

The big problem was in the execution: in fact it came right down to the script, a plot over complicated and unfocussed, where it needed to be linear and straightforward. And after that the performances were competent enough but there was too much cutesy wordplay between Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace, The characters, particularly hers, were deeply irritating, they kept doing dumb things calculated to get them killed.

And in the long run the little things were not right, the directors didn’t make it quirky or interesting or distinctive. What I mean is that many talented directors with a debut as this is show they can do so much more just given more resources or time.

This was not the problem. There was a decent mid level budget and even the cheap CG was not a bug, it was a feature; bright flashy, stylish in a hyper real way.

I’ve concentrated on the problems, but it wasn’t irredeemable, in fact it didn’t sag, it was often fun and Guy Pearce held up his end, he still has a great future.

However the problems eventually overwhelmed the virtues.

I wanted to like it. I can only tolerate it.


Lockout afforded me the opportunity to see the trailer for Indonesian action pic The Raid. I’m going. Are you going?



*uhh, I hate that term.




My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point


And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons




I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.


Grunting at the Screen (87)

20 Apr

The information age has not yet finished with us For the longest time fans of Iron Man have been clamouring for the key, popular and iconic “Demon in a Bottle” story-line to make it to the screen. You’ll be happy to know the comic has indeed directly influence the future direction of the films and now we can report that Iron Man 3 will be based on…. Extremis by Warren Ellis. Hme. I’m concerned. In this story Tony Stark goes all nanobot on us. It will inevitably involve a shit-load of CG, and in this case very obvious, and noticeable CG. In fact a very obviously CG suit. I have only one comment to this…Green Lantern. Anyway. Other indications (a casting call for actors of Chinese and Middle Eastern appearance) have the fans speculating that we will at last see the Mandarin. I don’t know, it could be all misdirection. The director is Shane Black, he may want to pull the series in a different direction, he may well want a Fu Manchu knock-off blasting Stark with magic rings..but my instinct is that Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios is the real power behind all the films and he’ll want to keep things consistent. That means making things as realistic as possible: no Mandarin, no Black Knight (forgot about him and his flying robot horse?) And no Fin Fang Foom. Albert Pyun is a lean, mean, unstoppable directing machine. I say this because he is at it again with Cyborgs: Rise of the Slingers. (Well he either is or it’s an elaborate April Fools). For those who came in late (yes, and you should get to the back of the class, Pyun is the creator of many 1990’s classics (of the straight-to-video variety) such as Cyborg, Knights and the ineffable Nemesis. Without a doubt he is the king of the low-budget Terminator rip off. Well, Rise of the Slingers is his return to the genre he so valiantly stole. We are told it is actually a prequel to the Jean Claude Van Damn starrer, Cyborg. Set in post apocalyptic Atlanta it features the Slingers, warriors of the wasteland fighting in the final … er penultimate battle between good and evil. Now, we’ve kept an eye on Pyun’s recent activities. He produced a director’s cut of Cyborg and was working on (but did not complete) a redux version of Nemesis. In the process he revealed how he’s augmented that film’s prosthetic effects with CG. I’m not sure I’m happy with that. Cheap prosthetics can be pretty good (just ask the zombie crowd). Cheap CG rarely works. I suspect Rise of the Slingers will be full of bargain basement CG. I finally picked up the paper version of the Sci Fi London Program. It’s… Cheap. I have most of the past Sci Fi Programs from the last ten years and they are glossy booklets. This thing is a flimsy paper thing. I’ve seen this kind of thing before, a folded poster with Program information on one side and a wall friendly image on the other (why? I never put them up..) This one looks well designed enough, but severely hit Credit crunch hit. Maybe they’ll do another … better one. Anyway. I like to take a look at some paper before I commit to a festival… It still isn’t biting. The closest thing to a candidate is Manborg and you have to do more than put on a Nazi uniform to float my boat.* Besides, It looks even sillier than my high threshold of tolerance can take. This is new. In God We Trust from Alex Gingell, Dan Haigh, Bastiaan Koch, and Alex Westaway; as the world nears total collapse a scientist discovers the means to directly contact God. And he’s not what we expected. Cue the controversy and jockeying for position as the reality of a world face to face with god sets in. This is only a trailer at the moment, it is trying to attract some real money for a feature (best of luck with that controversial story-line.) Directors of the Belgian Giallo “Amer” just won’t leave it alone. They have made another one. It’s become a trend. L’Etrange Couleur Des Larmes De Ton Corps (I know the translation, but I’m not telling you) In this one a husband comes home, finds his house locked up and his wife missing, as he looks into her disappearance he descends into a maze of his own dreams and fantasies. Video game “Need for Speed” is being developed as a movie. (There are ton of game movies already languishing in development hell.) What makes this one interesting is that George and John Gatins , screenwriters of Real Steel have been tasked with the job. Some compare the game to The Fast and the Furious. Other facile comparisons I might suggest would be: Vanishing Point, Drive Angry, The Transporter, Bullet. Any Film with a car in it…? Or even The Wheelman, and actual game that is still awaiting green light so Vin Diesel can star in it. Not content with having played the tooth fairy, The Rock is due to hang with the Fey Folk once again in Lore, a movie described as “Men in Black with Mythological creatures.” The land of myth is just a hairs breadth away from us. A secret society of heroes named the Shepherds is tasked with holding back the inhabitants of fairyland. Unfortunately the line of Shepherds is broken and a reluctant hero has to stand against the return of the creatures. Yes, this one is based on a Graphic novel by Ashley Wood. OK, we now have had a fair selection of reviews for the new space prison film Lockout. There is a fair spread of opinion; some actively hostile ones, but by and large the word is this is a deeply unoriginal yet fun action movie. If you hate bad CG you are out of luck. The word repeated across reviews however is “Cheese”. Yes, it’s the kind of film you can’t take seriously even as a joke. However, I’m willing to risk all of that and give it a try. After all, what does “original” now mean in a world where adapting a comic book is as fresh as they usually get? I thought I would have seen Lockout by now, but it opens on the 20th April, a week after its US opening. I’ve been hearing rumours about The Monk (Dominik Moll’s adaptation of Mathew Lewis’ mad as hell gothic novel). And the rumours are not encouraging. The novel is famous for its excess. The movie is said to be… restrained. Well, that’s no fun. More as the story develops. After John Carter I descended into an orgy of despair as I feared original (or semi original) Science Fiction was never going to see the light of day again. But it seems someone is still willing to take a chance on it. Voltage Pictures has taken the option on “Alter” a spec script from John and Thomas Sonntag. Cool premise too, a team of scientists are orbiting a black hole taking readings when they receive a transmission. It’s footage of them being massacred by an unknown alien force . (I’m guessing this turns into a frantic detective story as they fight to prevent the future…but who knows?) Cabin in the Wood, Review “Nothing good happens in the woods” So said a Brit movie magazine about five years ago. It still is true. From time to time I like to see a horror movie just too see if there is one that really does what it supposed to. Something really good, something new. Something scary. When I saw Drag Me to Hell I found such a film. Was hoping Cabin in the Woods would join it. It didn’t happen. What we had here was something familiar that good more familiar. Before I start let me say, there are some facts in this review, but they are not spoilers, because they are either there in the trailer, or you can assume them from what is known. Familiar? A bunch of college students go for a fun weekend out to the woods, they fail to obey the golden rules of horror (they go out in the dark, they have sex etc.) a bunch of them get killed. And there is a girl left at the end. Ow! Does that spoil it for you? Didn’t you expect it? Oh yes, you can see from the trailer that there are a bunch of creepy guys in a control room orchestrating the mayhem. (This control room aspect always made me leery, I’ve learned if there are guys manipulating the plot, the only ones really being puppeted are the audience). Look, this is a mildly enjoyable film, it’s even occasionally really funny. But it’s not scary and it does not add to the horror cannon. But that’s not what the reviewers told me. They said it was a definitive horror movie, that it was scary. Most of all they said they couldn’t tell us a thing or it would all be spoiled. They lied on every count. What we have is a throwback to the Scream area of meta-horror where we self consciously examine and expect the tropes of horror. And what is more we even have the icons of horror, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, giant reptiles and a few I thought they’d be way too embarrassed to take off (but they do). And while they promise as bad as the monsters are there is something way worse to come… when the big-bad arrives it is deeply disappointing. So disappointing I waited around for a post credit sequence that would redeem the move… there was none. Joss Wheddon and Drew Goddard called it their “Love letter to horror”. Guess what? Horror’s washing her hair. And oh yes. The CG sucks. I’ve said very little about Avengers, oh sorry again; Avengers Assemble. This has been deliberate, I’m seeing it, you’re seeing it, it needs no publicity. * Why, oh why didn’t they get Iron Sky? My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.

Grunting at the Screen (86)

11 Apr

The information age has not yet finished with us



OK, It’s April. The Blockbusters are coming at us hard and fast. And I’m ducking most of them.

Wrath of the Titans? Sequel. See it on disk.

Battleship? Silly, see it on TV.


But that doesn’t mean I’m keeping my hands in my pocket.

April brings possibilities.

Lockout, quite possibly cheesy (has there been a space prison film without the cheese-factor?) But it’s an original film and it demands our support.

Cabin in the Woods. The reviews have been off the scale, but the trailers have left me apprehensive. This is nothing against the chance of discovering this year’s horror game changer.



Saw the trailer for Prometheus.

I think I know what to say now. I suspect Ridley Scott has been a little disingenuous. He’s telling us it’s kind of a prequel to Alien, but not really a prequel to alien. He’s been messing us around.

I haven’t obsessively watched the trailer, but I have been thinking about it.

Some images stick: the space jockey who was found dead in his chair in Alien is very much alive in Prometheus.

The Alien ship interior has a chamber full of eggs.

The Alien ship falling and crashing to the planet in the Prometheus trailer.


I think Prometheus depicts events just a few decades before Alien, I think the planet we see is the same planet we visit in Alien.

I think Prometheus feeds directly into the beginning of Alien, and it is exactly a prequel, no less no more, and any protestations to the contrary are misdirection.


That said, I hope it is also something more.


I have still more on Prometheus.

I am now convinced of two things. One:  Not only is Prometheus certainly is an Alien prequel, despite any word to the contrary. Two: it was fashioned by the retooling of an earlier non-Alien screenplay  called Shadow 19 by neophyte writer Jon Spaihts.

A summary of Shadow 19 reveals it has several elements in common with  Prometheus (including a ship named ” Prometheus”) most of these we will keep to ourselves, no point in spoiling it for everyone.

Significantly one of the reviews of the  Shadow 19 described it as “an impressive piece of work” and claimed it gave him “multiple orgasms”.


There is little indication of just how many elements from Shadow 18 have survived into Prometheus. We are hoping there are many more than indicated in the trailers, because those elements sound hugely exciting. However, since Jon Spaihts left the project writer Damon Lindelof  was brought in who may have changed the script extensively.

Of course  Spaihts (in interview) categorically denies this. One: he claims  he wrote the prequel screenplay from scratch (starting with seed ideas from Ridley Scott).  Two: He claims Shadow 19 was sold off and strongly implies this was a separate deal to the prequel.

However the strong parallels are there.

Prometheus opens June 8 2012, which is not bloody soon enough.


Visions or Ecstasy, the only film to be banned solely for blasphemy is now out on DVD, featuring St Teresa getting freaky with Jesus it was considered to offensive to be released and its director Nigel Wingrove, fought several court actions to allow its distribution.

Apparently he finally won. It’s only 18 minutes long so it’s packaged with some extras, including an entire Nunsplotation feature.


From the sublime to the … well you tell me. Albert Pyun’s long lost CaptainAmericamovie has emerged on disk. (I suspect without the director’s co-operation, there are zero extra features) The timing is curious (er..incomprehensible). The First Avenger came out a year ago, and its DVD has been out for months (even I own it) so it seems a little late to have a “me too release.”  Anyway, for CaptainAmericacompletists and Albert Pyun completists, it is right there.


Sci -Fi London has announced its line-up.


Some of these we’ve mentioned on this very blog.

Extracted; (diving into a heroine addicts mind to solve a crime.)

Shuffle; (a man living his life in the wrong order.)

Osombie (Osama Bin Ladin is back, and this time he’s a zombie.)

Other films with potential include

Dimensions; (British time travel drama, may also include flatland style travel in the second and fourth spatial dimensions)

Manborg; the Nazi, cyborg  vampire film.

And there are a bunch of documentaries, the only one interesting me is The Golden Age of  Science Fiction: the John W. Campbell story.


And there is the premier of Radio Free Albemuth. Ooh. After all of this time, finally a screening.


I kept checking out the line up and dug out some info on some of the other films.

The Last Push. One review (actually the only one) described it as “Space travel as it really is”, hme. To its credit, it is not without interest, it is a journey to the moons of Jupiter cut short by a meteor accident (ah… the old meteor accident plot…) This throws the surviving astronaut into Apollo 13 mode as he struggles to get back to earth. Apparently there is a lot of boredom, loneliness and fear of death (a comedy perhaps?)


Strange Frame: Love and Sax. Odd thing here, a CG animated feature made independently inHawaii. That’s  alone has to be worth something. I saw a trailer, didn’t float my boat, but hey, it’s fromHawaii.


Zero One: promises the ultimate in mean sentient machines.

It is directed by Kareem N. Gray, I took a look at the trailer. You know, I think this is an African-American production. That’s different.

Cycle: a Hungarian  Science fiction movie .A man keeps running though the same scene on a roof each time a little differently, until he can solve the mystery of why he is there.

Yes, we are in now well-warn territory travelled by films like Source Code and Groundhog Day (and due t be rolled over by Tom Cruise’s All you Need is Kill, next year).

So, back in January we predicted the Sc-Fi London line-up. How did we do?

Miserably. This year we didn’t get one hit. Not one. The closest we got was The 25th Reich, but apparently we bet on the wrong Nazi Sci Fi feature.

Sci -Fi London  2012 runs from May 1st to May 7th


Oh yes, the mayor ofDetroittried to stop it. But the Statue of the mighty RoboCop will be erected.


The last Icelandic film we featured was… wait a second; we’ve never featured any Icelandic film. Cool. How about this? Frost. A team drilling in a glacier finds something ancient, something evil…

OK, not the most original of premises (from the sublime Thing, to the not so attractive Chaw…) but there is the slimmest chance this may be a unique spin on the theme.


As you know, I don’t rave about trailers. OK, sometimes I like trailers. OK, on occasion I’m very impressed by trailers.

 Blood-C: The Last Dark is one of those times.

We are not talking the usual CGI digital 3D crap. I opined we had seen the death of 2D cell animation. Thankfully I was wrong and Production IG has taken a classic stab at a legendary intellectual property.

I’m excited… I really am


Similarly it’s been too long since I last saw a Malaysian Powered-armour movie. But no worries, one is on the way.

Mantera; the Man Transformable Exo-Robotic Armour (or “mantera”) has been sabotaged, its designer has disappeared.

Who has destroyed the project, and what are their motives?

The eponymous robotic device also transforms into a motor cycle (I suppose they kept a spare somewhere.)

Mantera is scheduled to be released in 17th May, 2012…. inMalaysia.


Hah, I was right! I told you that it was the return of psychic movies.

They are coming thick and fast now. July sees the release of Red Lights, starring

Sigourney Weaver, Elizabeth Olsen and Cillian Murphy.

Directed by Rodrigo Cortes (who did buried with Ryan Reynolds)  No reviews yet.


Publicity is ramping up for Lockout, trailers are out, and TV interviews have been circulating. 

The first reviews have emerged. One thinks  it’s OK, but the other thinks it’s pretty mediocre.  Both emphasise that it is cheap and the CGI sucks and both think Guy Pearce did a pretty good job in it.

Lockout opens on April 13.





My own favourite Film Blog is John Scalzi’s. Not much in the way of news but his opinion is on point

And if you want some real news scoot over to Dark Horizons

Index Page




I’m Jack Eris and if you know me, you know Jack.